Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Thomas Parr1, Christopher S Cronan1, Tsutomu Ohno1 and Kevin S Simon2, (1)University of Maine, Orono, ME, United States, (2)University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Land use and land cover change in the Anthropocene have altered the source, composition, and reactivity of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in aquatic ecosystems around the world. In particular, urbanization increases the abundance of bioavailable DOM in streams. This bioavailable DOM may increase the utilization of less bioavailable pools of DOM via the “priming effect.” The priming effect is a phenomenon whereby the addition of a small amount of labile DOM can increase or decrease the breakdown rate of less bioavailable DOM – positive and negative priming respectively. Our research tests priming as one potential mechanism altering DOM composition and increasing its bioavailability in urban streams. We measured DOM degradation during 30-day incubations in samples from a small urban stream and two microbial DOM sources mixed with DOM from a small stream dominated by less microbial allochthonous sources. We assessed priming by looking at observed percent biodegradable dissolved organic carbon (BDOC) vs. endmember predicted BDOC. We also investigated the molecular dynamics of priming using Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR/MS). Using bulk DOC concentration we found evidence that adding small amounts of DOM from an urban stream could increase BDOC by a factor of two to three. At the molecular level, FT-ICR/MS showed that addition of labile DOM may increase the bioavailability of a variety of compound classes including proteins, lipids, and “black carbon.” Furthermore, we observed that what is frequently reported as positive or negative priming may be more accurately understood as the net balance of simultaneous positive and negative priming operating on different DOM pools. Our results highlight an important global mechanism by which human activities may alter the composition and reactivity of DOM in fresh waters. Priming the degradation of allochthonous DOM with autochthonous or novel anthropogenic DOM may alter the organic energy available for microbially driven ecosystem functions regulating water quality.